Recession. Climate crisis. Creaking political systems. Growing inequality. Rage-fuelled culture wars. Life, in the words of Monty Python, may seem jolly rotten. But perhaps there’s something that adland has forgotten - and that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing…
Yes, as 2022 lopes to a close like Jack Torrance staggering to his frozen end, thoughts turn to 2023. Things may seem grim, but it’s never been a more important time for the marketing world to remember advertising’s potential to entertain and amuse. We asked a number of creative and strategic leaders what they wanted to see in the ad industry going into the new year and a significant chunk responded by telling us they want to see less bellyaching and more belly laughs (but before we get carried away, for balance, we’ve got a timely reminder that humour can be hard work).
Kevin Chesters, Strategy Partner, Harbour
I know exactly what I want to see from the creative industries in 2023.
I want some more fun.
Some more smiles. Beaucoup LOLs.
I want to see us all use our creativity to add a bit of positivity to the world.
Every focus group I have ever watched or facilitated started by asking respondents what kind of ads they liked or remembered.
Do you know what everyone always says, without exception, regardless of age, sex or nationality?
The funny ones.
What’s the world like at the moment? A shitshow.
What’s it likely to be for the foreseeable? A shitshow.
What do we all need? A bit of a laugh.
And it works.
We know from System 1 and Kantar that humour sells.
Comedy is commercial gold.
We also know humour can be an amazing trojan horse for talking about difficult topics from ED to mental health.
That’s what I want for Xmas. The industry to make everyone smile a bit more.
Less handwringing and sadvertising.
A few more of the old-fashioned LOLs.
We need to be serious when necessary but not all the time.
Why don’t we play a role in putting a smile back on the faces of Britain when everything is just a bit horrible out there.
After all, they’re only adverts. Stop taking it all so seriously.
More funny animals and lamb bhunas.
Micky Tudor, Chief Creative Officer, The&Partnership
What do I want to see from Adland in 2023? Good ads would be a good start. But mainly I’d like to see advertising feel more Rockstar. And by that I don’t mean the ageing white rocker, (advertising is dealing with enough diversity demons), but a swagger and edge and gutsy drive for innovation, risk-taking and entertainment.
Currently young talent is drawn to tech industries because tech is exciting, disruptive and culture shaping.
That used to be us.
Now we do a lot of important, purpose driven work, but what is OUR purpose? What is everything and everyone running towards in our industry? Given that the world is pretty bleak at the moment, what if our purpose next year was to deliver outrageous positivity.
In dark times to add some light, some fireworks, some explosive entertainment. To laugh while taking risks. To innovate and not take ourselves too seriously. To help people escape the reality around them even if just for a few minutes or a few moments. To be entertainers in chief. That would be good for the world too.
Let’s get back on stage and smash some metaphorical guitars, let off some confetti cannons and turn it up to eleven. Let’s entertain the nation. Because to attract the rockstars of 2023 maybe we need to first admit that we aren’t being rock and roll enough. And you don’t join the Rolling Stones if you’re a tea-totaller.
Manuel Bordé, Global Chief Creative Officer, VMLY&R Commerce
I miss funny ads. The world misses them too. All except Twitter. We’re so worried about ticking boxes and pleasing everyone that along the way we forgot to be bold, daring and fun. Playing it safe became the norm. We forgot about creativity and focused on plain communication.
We need Brave marketers. Bravery is infectious.
Tay Guan Hin, Creative Chairman, BBDO Singapore
Covid has a weird effect on our sense of humour. For the last two years, lockdown life hasn't been fun when facing high death tolls. It may seem insensitive at times when we joke around. As we slowly recover from covid, like accepting to live with it, on the most basic level, we need to reconnect once again. And humour is an excellent way to reconnect with each other.
I miss humour that is insightful, witty, and smart. Not the fleeting weird memes and TikTok videos suddenly become viral one day and quickly disappear as mysteriously as they appear. I look forward to intelligent humour like the iconic Economist ads. Simple, minimalistic communication that boasts short, witty copy.
The type of humour that allows me to process the meaning, and when it finally hits me, I usually get a smile on my face.
Humour is subjective, but tastefully executed can build brand affinity and allow consumers to reconnect more intimately.
Louis Venezia, CEO/CCO of Pilot Content
"Puns are the lowest form of verbal facility.” I thought Shakespeare said it, but Google tells me it might be Christopher Hitchens. Just as well. Puns have always driven me crazy. And they’re everywhere. Memes. Publications. And, of course, ads. We can’t escape them in The Economist. The headline writers at The New York Post won’t help the cause. And ads have more puns per ad than I could possibly count.
I’m sick of puns and for 2023 I would love desperately a year of ads without puns. If ad writers could just take a 365-day break from puns, I would have the perfect Christmas. It’s not that I don’t want funny ads. I do – but I want them without puns of any kind. And I want serious ads, too, but I don’t want them dependent on a last second pun in the CTA. I’ll even suck it up and watch bad ads all the way through so long as there’s no pun in there to make the cringe twice as bad. No word puns. No visual puns. No puns!
I’d love one year where it’s less about the short-term chuckle and more about the lasting thought. I’d love one year during which I don’t have to watch actual human people say, “How clever” when they see the pretend word “Purrrfect” about a cat product. Just one year. 365 tiny presents, just for me. Please, I beg you.